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The Bamboo Bridge

by Cpt. Al Fletcher(ret. | Permalink
November 23, 1996

When I returned from Vietnam in 1969, I was greeted at the Seattle, Wa. airport by a group of war protesters who proceeded to spit on me, tear medals from my uniform, and call me baby killer. My experience was no different from that of most of the young men who had gone to serve their country. I was not honored and welcomed home with a ticker-tape parade like vets from previous wars. The message conveyed to me was, "Stuff it, we don't want to hear about it." And STUFF IT is what I did for 25 years.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, treatment programs, psychiatric wards,unemployment, and divorce were the makeup of my life until late 1993 when I attended a weekend of healing, honor and homecoming! That weekend program called "The Bamboo Bridge" was a critical step for me in coming to terms with the war in Vietnam. In 1968, a bamboo bridge was a one-way path into war, heat, confusion and death. In 1993,I crossed a bamboo bridge back into the world. Since beginning my own journey of recovery, I have been honored to help in the process of bringing home my brothers and sisters whose wounded young spirits were left behind in Vietnam. Together with other veterans who have also crossed "The Bamboo Bridge", I continue to lead point for those who have the courage to go inside themselves, revisit their Vietnam experience, and be led home to the HONOR that they deserve.

There were many casualties of that war. In addition to the deceased and physically disabled, there are the emotionally disabled. Of the 2.7 million Americans who served in Vietnam, more have committed suicide since the war ended than the 58,000 who died in the war itself, and the number continues to rise. Of all the homeless in our country, 30 percent are Vietnam vets. They also continue to be vastly over-represented among the men who face alcohol and drug addictions. These suffering vets should have a chance to experience a healing process like the "BAMBOO BRIDGE".

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